You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Secret files detailing security at chemical warfare base found discarded in BIN

Mirror logo Mirror 05/07/2019 Tim Baker
a man sitting in a box: Daily star reporter Tim Baker , photographed with many court and medical confidential files simply thrown away in  dustbins belzize park London.                                                        PICTURE BY HUMPHREY NEMAR  3.7.2019 © Daily star Daily star reporter Tim Baker , photographed with many court and medical confidential files simply thrown away in dustbins belzize park London. PICTURE BY HUMPHREY NEMAR 3.7.2019

Files detailing security arrangements at Britain’s top secret chemical warfare base have been found discarded in a London bin.

The documents relate to Porton Down, the famous military science centre in Wiltshire, the Daily Star reports.

The maximum security base played a pivotal role investigating the Russian Novichok attack in Salisbury, Wilts, and is in the frontline battle against chemical and biological weapons.

The Ministry of Defence has launched a probe as former Defence Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind led calls for a Government inquiry.

One former police officer, who dealt with Porton Down, said: “This 100% could have ended catastrophically. Someone somewhere has not done their job.

“What could have happened is far worse than what did.”

The documents relate to a top secret chemical warfare base © Daily star The documents relate to a top secret chemical warfare base

The Star was alerted to the dumping of the sensitive records last week by a member of the public.

Thousands of pages of highly personal information were then found in a paper recycling bin in a north London car park.

a close up of a dry grass field: Porton Down: the British military research base in Wiltshire (PA Wire/PA Images) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Porton Down: the British military research base in Wiltshire (PA Wire/PA Images) The explosive haul of information linked to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down included details of equipment carried by guards at the site.

Also discovered was the home address of a guard, details about the responsibilities of specialised police who patrol the perimeter of the base, and the password to computer systems written in plain text.

One intelligence expert described the papers as a “terrorist’s dream” as the bin is in a known spot for “dumpster divers” – homeless people hunting food and goods to sell on.

Sir Malcolm added: “You would have an inquiry in a situation like this, especially when there is a risk of this information falling into the hands of foreign powers or terrorists. This would automatically lead to an inquiry.”

a close up of a piece of paper: They even say they're confidential © Daily star They even say they're confidential The papers date from the early 1980s to the end of 2017.

Their discovery comes just months after Porton Down identified the deadly Novichok nerve agent that poisoned Russian turncoat spy Sergei and daughter Yulia, and killed Dawn Sturgess. The Government blamed two Russian assassins for the attack, sparking a diplomatic incident.

Porton Down – one of the most secretive military installations in the world – originally researched chemical warfare during World War One.

a young boy standing in front of a brick building: A probe has been launched by the MoD © Daily star A probe has been launched by the MoD

Since then it has evolved to focus on “developing effective countermeasures” against foreign attacks on UK assets and our allies abroad, according to the base’s website.

It holds deadly substances such as the Ebola virus and nerve agent Sarin.

Its website says: “The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory ensures that innovative science and technology contribute to the defence and security of the UK.”

a sign on the side of a fence: Porton Down © Getty Images Porton Down

An MOD spokesman said: “We take the protection of personal data very seriously and we have a range of procedures in place to do so, including complying with the Data Protection Act.

"We also expect third parties who legitimately hold out data to apply similar strict procedures.

“We can confirm that an investigation has been launched” .

Gallery: How countries really recruit their spies revealed (Lovemoney)

MSN are empowering Women In Sport this summer. Find out more about our campaign and the charity fighting to promote the transformational and lifelong rewards of exercise for women and girls in the UK here.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Mirror

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon